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I work in property law I was signed off sick from my previous email employer (***** Solicitors) for a fortnight until 13th July 2018. Prior to this I had handed in my notice which came with a three month notice period due to finish in September 2018. During my leave through sickness due to stress I negotiated and agreed with my previous employer that my last day was on 13th July 2018 and I have written confirmation that my employment ended on this date and my P45 is to follow.

I have since started my new job however I have since come across evidence and had confirmed to me that my line manager of my previous job has been informing people that I have not left the company and that I was signed off sick. I imagine this is to their benefit to work out how they inform my ex-colleagues, clients and business associates. Regardless of this, officially my employment with them has ended and my new employment has started.

I work in property law so clients, business associates are very important to me hence why I have updated my business profile on LinkedIn etc. Furthermore, I have been told by former colleagues, business contacts that when associates email my old address they get an out of office message saying I’m on leave. Obviously this is not the case.

My concern is that my networking and privacy is being harmed by my previously employer saying I’m still on leave which misleads people to assuming I’m on leave and off sick when I’m in fact no longer working there and in employment with another firm. How should I proceed further?

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    Write them a solicitor's letter to get them to update / correct their information... Copying that solicitor's letter to all the other parties ie clients might also be a solution but not necessarily a good idea. Best get professional advice on this, as it is a minefield... – Solar Mike Feb 4 at 11:41
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I think you're looking at possible misrepresentation rather than a breach of privacy - saying something that isn't true is, by definition, not going to constitute disclosure of personal information.

If you have the e-mail address of your former manager and the human resources department, send them an e-mail. Keep it simple - you've noticed that the out of office reply suggests you are on leave when you've left the company.

[If you don't have direct e-mail addresses send to the general firm address - or by post.]

Give them the chance to rectify things. If they don't take that opportunity this will be useful information if you need to take things further.

  • HR should be well aware of the termination date since they agreed it with written confirmation... – Solar Mike Feb 4 at 11:45
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    @SolarMike - They should be aware of when employment ended. They may not be aware of the current "out of office" settings. If they weren't, they could become an ally. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Feb 4 at 11:48
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    Thanks for your reply. I am almost certain they were aware as I have evidence after my leave date that they told people I was still ill. – Ryan Hemmings Feb 4 at 12:18
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    ItWas, I wouldn't even go so far as "misrepresentation". I don't think I have ever, once seen an autoresponder that didn't have the wrong message, or was in some way shambolic. It's almost certainly the case of nothing more than: someone forget to change an autoresponder. – Fattie Feb 4 at 12:47
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    @Fattie - My first thought was Hanlon's Razor. It's possible that they're up to no good, but pointing it out will poke them in the right direction whether they're malicious or incompetent. I'm off to upvote your answer now... – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Feb 4 at 12:56
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The only actual facts at hand are:

when associates email my old address they get an out of office message saying I’m on leave

You should now email the old office (cc everyone - management, HR, IT) the following text:

Hi guys, it is Ryan. When associates email my old address they get an out of office message saying I’m on leave. Would you please change this? Thanks, Ryan.

That's it.

(FWIW IMO such autoresponders are always a shambles. When I get an autoresponder like that ("on holiday!" "sick!" "dead!" etc etc) I just interpret it as:"anything could be happening". Nobody really cares. In any event, simply email them asking them to change the message.)


Note that the "correct" thing for a company, particularly a legal company, to do in this case is not have an autoresponder, but simply forward the emails to someone who manually deals with everything appropriately. But it's their business - you can't tell them what to do. But since they are misrepresenting you as still working there, sure, just politely point this problem out to them.

  • The last day stated is also a fact... – Solar Mike Feb 4 at 14:34
  • You need to be specific about what the message is changed to. Otherwise, they're likely to disable it entirely, or change it to something that continues to imply that you're still employed there/ – alroc Feb 4 at 14:39

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